At the start of the season, we ran a series of bold predictions from the staff. Now, we get to tally up our hits and misses. No surprise, it’s mostly misses.
Kory Powell: Michael Conforto will finish in the top 10 at the end of the season for the NL MVP.
Nope. Conforto had his worst full season as a pro, batting .232/.344/.384 with 14 HR in 125 games. He was probably playing through a shoulder injury for the majority of that time, but the bottom line is an offensive output that was just barely above league average. That won’t cut it from someone you expect to be a centerpiece in your offense, and it certainly won’t get you any MVP consideration.
Dave Capobianco: Jordan Yamamoto will make 20-25 solid starts and emerge as a long-term rotation piece.
Yamamoto went down with a strained shoulder and tossed only 38.1 innings on the season, a mere 6.2 of which came in the big leagues. He wasn’t particularly good at any point, and it’s a bit concerning that he’s now lost two straight seasons to a shoulder problem. Still, he should figure into the rotation picture next year if only because the Mets lack other options.
Allison McCague: Luis Guillorme becomes an everyday regular.
This was closer to a hit than one might realize. Guillorme posted a basically league average line (99 wRC+) and rated as a solid-if-unspectacular defender by Statcast. He missed his chance to secure regular playing time when the the guys in front of him went down with injury because he was hurt himself. With the arrival (and presumptive re-signing) of Javier Baez, it seems unlikely he gets another real shot as a starter next year.
Rob Wolff: Brandon Nimmo makes his first All-Star team and leads the NL in runs scored.
Nimmo’s injuries and the Mets’ offensive ineptitude prevented this from happening, even though he was quite good when he played. We’ll get back to that in a little bit though.
Christian Romo: Barring injury, Pete Alonso should play every day this season, and his spring training performance might indicate a return to his rookie year form.
At last, our first correct prediction. Pete didn’t match his rookie home run total, but he did post a 133 wRC+ that was closer to his 2019 than 2020 bottom line. To top it off, he won another home run derby in resounding fashion, counting down his own home runs in the final round. There are a lot of good offensive first baseman in baseball, but Pete can hold his own with any of them outside of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at this point.
Michael Drago: My bold prediction is that Edwin Díaz will not only be good in 2021, he will be the very best closer in the whole game.
This is a miss, but it’s much closer than you might think. Yes, Diaz’s 3.45 ERA isn’t remarkable and he blew six of his 38 save chances. But by Baseball Prospectus’ DRA-, Diaz was still among the 30 or 40 best pitchers in baseball. Now he is a reliever, making the sample size on that figure somewhat questionable, and he seemed to perform markedly worse post sticky-stuff ban. At the same time, he wasn’t the abject disaster many might assume.
Linda Surovich: I’m not sure if this is too bold given his pedigree but Francisco Lindor will win the National League MVP and will be the first Mets position player to grab the crown.
Lindor got off to a horrible start, and even though he returned to his career norms (offense roughly 20% better than league average) from the middle of the season onward, his end of season line is nowhere close to MVP consideration. Better times are almost certainly ahead, but Lindor’s first season in Queens was a dud.
Vas Drimalitis: Jeff McNeil wins the National League batting title.
McNeil could just never get going this season, and he posted a career-worst batting line at .249/.317/.358. Perhaps he was playing hurt, but there are some troubling aging trends for players that rely on out-of-zone contact as much as McNeil does. Hopefully this is just a blip and McNeil can get his name back in the batting title conversation next season.
Lukas Vlahos: Brandon Nimmo will rate as a top-7 center fielder in baseball by fWAR
So back to Brandon Nimmo. If you open Fangraph’s leaderboards and filter for CF, you won’t see Nimmo. That’s only because he doesn’t qualify, however. Drop the AB threshold to 300 and Nimmo rates as the 6th best CF in baseball this season, with 3.5 fWAR in only 386 PA. Nimmo’s power remained somewhat lacking, but he’s greatly improved his strikeout rate in the last two seasons while holding on to his incredible penchant for walks. He also significantly improved his defense in CF, with 4 OAA by Statcast.
Nimmo remains an extremely undervalued - albeit injury-prone - player that at this point is probably the best leadoff hitter in baseball. The Mets would do well to extend him soon if they intend to contend over the next few seasons.
Rich Resch: All eight of the Mets’ starting position players will hit at least 20 home runs.
Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor got there, but the rest of the Met offensive laid a giant egg due to injuries or general underperformance. More than that, the Mets have a general power problem; they continue to hit way too many ground balls as the rest of the league’s best hit fewer than ever. Hopefully a fresh start with a new coaching staff and organizational philosophy - one that’s more cognizant of modern baseball trends - will improve this going forward.
Grace Carbone: No guts, no glory. The Mets will have their first MVP winner in franchise history: Michael Conforto. Pair that with another Cy Young for deGrom and their first playoff appearance in five years.
This was a trifecta prediction, making it especially bold. deGrom was certainly on track for the Cy Young, but injuries ultimately derailed his season. The Mets, meanwhile, set a record as the team with the most games in first place to finish with a losing record. So...yeah, not great.
Brian Salvatore: Taijuan Walker is going to have a career year, and he’ll be the team’s second best starting pitcher.
Close, but no cigar. Walker did have a career year, but he really faded down the stretch. More than that, he was still only the third best starting pitcher on the team by fWAR. Jacob deGrom’s 92 innings were so absurd that he still paces the team by 1.5 wins, with Marcus Stroman slotting in behind him.
Final score, 2 out of 12. Not great, but when a team you expect to be good has a disastrous season, most of your bold predictions will miss. Hopefully our fortunes will improve next season.